When Bob Schroeder and Karen Schroeder opened a home building company in the East Lansing, Mich. area, they saw a market that needed housing stock beyond typical student apartments and rental homes.
East Lansing, home of Michigan State University, is saturated with student housing apartments and for-rent houses. So the Schroeders began building new homes to target the first time home buyers, Baby Boomer empty nesters, and local employees working at area hospitals, the university, and for the government.
“There was brand new student housing surrounding us everywhere,” Karen Schroeder, vice president, says. “But our product took off like wild fire. Our first open house, we didn’t even have the utilities opened up yet and we had a construction hot heater on top of the wood floor, but people just loved it.”
Home building is actually what brought the Schroeders together. The Ingham County market is small and everyone seems to know everyone else, so it was natural that the duo would cross paths. Bob Schroeder, president, was working for a home building company and Karen Schroeder was doing marketing and sales for new homes at a different company. The two engaged in friendly competition and eventually decided they’d work better together and began Mayberry in 2002. They were married two years later.
The company was named after the town where the Andy Griffith show was set in the 1960s and was created to build special and unique homes with good feelings – much like the North Carolina community portrayed on the television sitcom.
“It’s a fictitious town – it’s that place where everybody knew your name and you felt welcomed and friendly,” she says.
More than a decade after Mayberry started, it caters to young, first and second-time home buyers and empty nesters, Bob Schroeder says. The company came out of the gate quickly, building 59 homes in the first year of business and 100 homes in 2004.
“Then in the downturn, we focused on all first-time buyers,” he says. “We were pulling renters out of apartments. Now we are doing better and we see the move-up buyer and empty nester customers coming back.”
The Mayberry sales pipeline choked in 2008 as the recession suffocated the Great Lakes State and the company’s sales fell to a mere 38 homes.
“But failure was not an option,” Karen Schroeder says. “We were going to be bulldogs about it.”